Natural History Museum

Natural History Museum

Architect
ATELIER BRÜCKNER
Location
Oslo, Norway | View Map
Project Year
2022
Category
Museums
Marcus Sies

Natural History Museum in Oslo - Explore 4.5 Billion Years of Earth History

ATELIER BRÜCKNER as Architects

On May 6, 2022, the Natural History Museum (Naturhistorisk Museum) opens in Oslo after several years of renovation. It houses the largest geological and anthropological exhibition in the Nordic countries. ATELIER BRÜCKNER was tasked with devising a new concept for the exhibition design and also acted as general contractor. The building that is located in the botanical gardens at the heart of the Norwegian capital is one of two identical listed buildings, arranged symmetrically. Following the requirements, the arrangement of the rooms as well as the existing fixtures, showcases and floor covering have been preserved. Typical features of the museum building inaugurated in 1920 are the high windows. They emphasize the visual connection to the outdoors and flood the exhibition space with natural light.

photo_credit Marcus Sies
Marcus Sies

The more than 2,300 square meter exhibition space presents four-and-a-half billion years of Earth’s history. Over 2,500 objects from the extensive university collections are on display; alongside familiar objects, new exhibits include a complete Plesiosaurier from Spitsbergen (Svalbard) and a newly prepared, fully jointed cave bear skeleton.

photo_credit Marcus Sies
Marcus Sies

The visitor routing spreads over three floors with six thematically staged gallery rooms, supplemented by a stand-alone presentation in the basement. A guiding system and consistent text hierarchies allow for orientation within the building. The positioning of the exhibits underlines the navigation: huge skeletons and replicas look visitors straight in the eye as they enter the room. Children and experts can follow the "Family Trail" or the "Expert Trail" with target group-specific information at a total of 100 stations.

photo_credit Marcus Sies
Marcus Sies

Starting on level 1, the theme "Evolution of Life" is presented in two galleries. They show how planet Earth and life on it have developed together over billions of years. A complete Tyrannosaurus-Rex skeleton and an original Triceratops skull are the highlights of this room. The surrounding islands present life forms that preceded the dinosaurs in time by means of fossils, digital aquariums, and reconstructed models. Accompanying hands-on stations make it possible to experience them haptically.

photo_credit Marcus Sies
Marcus Sies

Main narrative of the second gallery is the evolution of mammals, starting 47 billion years ago. It includes Ida, the most complete primate fossil ever found. It is one of the most impressive objects in the museum. Parallel narrative threads are devoted to the evolution of animals on land and in the sea. A 14-metre- skeleton of a pot whale dominates this last themed area. Graphic-spatial elements that are suspended from the ceiling in the two evolution galleries provide orientation. They indicate the eras of the exhibits and show corresponding habitats.

photo_credit Marcus Sies
Marcus Sies

Level 2 of the building presents the fascinating world of minerals, sparkling crystals and stones in the appropriately named "Minerals and Rocks" gallery. They are the bedrock and important raw material for numerous everyday products. On the long sides, the historical showcases form a total of ten themed bays devoted for example the history of the museum and historic expeditions of the university. Eigth prominent "Tables of Systematics" are arranged down the centre of the room. They show outstanding objects according to the mineral system.

photo_credit Marcus Sies
Marcus Sies

The next gallery, "History of an Ocean", focuses on the geological history of the North Sea through to the Barents Sea and thus the beginnings of Norway. The "Drill Core Table", a nine-metre-long table, is the central element of the room. It displays 178 drill core discs with fossils. The interactive media station that can be moved over the table allows visitors to find out more about the life forms and types on display. Dioramas in spherical displays and a reconstructed Plateosaurus provide context and showcase the habitats in the various ages. Other attractions in the room are the "Gammla object" (an Ichthyosaurus) and "Britney" (a Plesiosaurus) exhibited in eight-meter-long display cases.

photo_credit Marcus Sies
Marcus Sies

A visual connection arouses curiosity for the second upper storey of the museum. The airspace above the "Drill Core Table" is dominated by an artistic ceiling installation which represents the asteroid belt. The "Stories from Space" gallery on level 3 is dedicated to our solar system, illustrating its size, and showing how the Earth was formed. It also deals with the history of meteorites and meteorite finds in Norway.

photo_credit Marcus Sies
Marcus Sies

Finally, in the "Dynamic Earth" gallery on level 3, visitors can find out more about our constantly changing planet. Ten globes in different colours and textures fill the airspace of the gallery bays. Each of them stands for a process which makes our planet unique; one of these are the ocean currents and the effects they have on our climate. Additional information can be found on the "Tables of Evidence" in the middle of the room. These present phenomena, that made scientists understand these processes. The globes can be viewed through binoculars. Integrated Augmented Reality allows visitors to visually experience the processes and phenomena.

photo_credit Marcus Sies
Marcus Sies

The circular tour through the three main levels can be rounded off by a visit to the impressively staged "Crystal Cave" in the basement. Visitors enter the walk-in installation via a dark entrance tunnel. In the first area, the "Real Cave", they pass through the sparking crystal cave on a black grate bridge. The cave is a replica made of crystals from the Norwegian potash mine of Brevik - an immersive experience. In the adjacent room, the "Artificial Cave", the showcases borrow from the prismatic shapes of their objects. The highlight of the room sequence is the "Glowing Cave", which stages the magical colour and form splendour of the exhibited stones using of UV light.

photo_credit Marcus Sies
Marcus Sies

ATELIER BRÜCKNER is one of the world’s leading exhibition designers. With offices in Stuttgart and Seoul, the agency that was founded 25 years ago, is led by Shirin Brückner, Prof. Eberhard Schlag, Britta Nagel and René Walkenhorst. 120 employees contribute to the development of narrative spaces for museums, brands, and visitor centres. The focus is on emotionally conveying content in a long-lasting experience. 

Team:
Partners: Shirin Frangoul-Brückner I Britta Nagel I Prof. Eberhard Schlag I René Walkenhorst I 
Associate Partners: Michel Casertano I Jana Fröhlich I Cord-Hinrich Grote I Dominik Hegemann I Stefanie Klinge I Wassim Melki I Kathrin Milic-Grunwald I Bernd Möller I Marco Müller I Nicolo Piana I Elisabeth Ramm I Rana Rmeily I Tanja Zöllner 
Managing Director: Shirin Frangoul-Brückner 

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